I woke up Sunday and actually felt better than I had for any of my three prior doubles, and really, I felt better than I typically do the day after a marathon. I took a ice bath Saturday when I got to Mobile, but I think the real key was that I spent a good 20 minutes stretching last night.
I felt good, although I was tired. I had only slept 10 1/2 hours combined Thursday and Friday night and I really wanted to get at least 7, preferably 8. Unfortunately, my hotel had a nightclub directly above my room and at 10 p.m., the music started. 15 minutes later I decided to change rooms, and my attempt at 8, which was already only looking like 7, became 6 1/2.
I got up, ate my breakfast and hung out in my nice warm room because weather.com said it was 22 (11 with wind chill) outside. Fortunately, the start was about 50 yards from my hotel lobby, so I didn’t go out until five minutes before the start. Before I made it out, I met some people who told me they had read about me the day before in the paper! I did a phone interview with a reporter from Mobile earlier in the week, but he said the story was probably not going to run, so this was a pleasant surprise. I was later told the story ran on the front of marathonguide.com!
To the start, I saw my friend Dane Rauschenberg, who also ran Jackson on Saturday and rode down to Mobile with me. He ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks in 2006, so I know we’ll be talking a lot this year about things only we would understand. Amazingly, with all the things he’s done running, running a double is something he hadn’t done, so this was his first. We were both happy that it felt slightly warmer than yesterday at the start — probably about 23-25 degrees compared to 18 the day before. At that point, every degree counts!
The gun went off and we started cruising. We didn’t go to hard — he said he wanted to run a 3:17 (which he did), but I wanted to get as much out of my body that I could. I really wanted to negative-split my weekend (go faster than the 3:18:44 I ran the day before), but like always, I just go out and give it all I have. My time is whatever I can get.
We ran together for the first three miles or so, but I felt good and my heart rate was low, so he told me not to hold back. I kept rolling and told him he’d pass me later. I got into a groove and felt really good.
I noticed that my legs felt heavy at about 5, but it wasn’t much of a problem. It felt like I typically do on a training run — not terrible, but not completely fresh. I was turning 7:18s consistently and didn’t need to bump my heart rate up to my typical marathon heart rate (170ish).
However, there was a pretty nice climb between miles 10 and 11. In hindsight, I don’t remember much about that hill, except by the time I got to the top of it, I was cooked. My pace for the race went from 7:18 to 7:28 in a mile. I knew I was going unravel. About 1/2 mile later, Dane passed me up with the eventual women’s winner. He actually passed me twice, because they made a wrong turn and I yelled to them to get back on the course.
There were some gradual rollers over the next few miles that really sealed the deal for me and brought on the permanent fade. I tried to focus on the positive. For starters, I started thinking about why I was out there, for Operation Jack. I’m trying to make a difference, and in order to do that, I literally have to run myself into the ground. 60 has wow factor, and this is what that takes. One side benefit we get out of all this is we’ve been given services at a hyperbaric chamber facility for Jack as a result of this and if nothing else, what I’m putting myself through will get that for him. As a parent, it felt pretty satisfying to know that my pain was his gain. While I wrote this on the plane, he was in the chamber.
I was having those thoughts at around 15. Not too far after that, we went through something that I think was called the Mobile Botanical Gardens or something like that. There was a really cool looking lake and a forest area and a view way off into the distance of quite a bit of undeveloped land. I live in master-planned suburbia, so it’s nice to see the world as it was created.
I’m sure I’ll say this a lot this year, but one thing that’s going to be cool for me is seeing a lot of America. There’s so much variety out there and I’m going to get to run through a lot of it. Today, I got to see a lot of Mobile, seeing schools, parts of the city, neighborhoods and I really enjoyed it. Well, except when I ran by a KFC and smelled the chicken and got hungry! OK, enough rambling …
There was one last decent climb somewhere around 18 or 19 and from there, it was all downhill or flat, which I really appreciated. I run up hills a lot, but I race better on the downhill. Obviously I’m faster, but I get more out of the course than I should on the downhills and I don’t get enough on the uphills. I got into a nice little rhythm over the final 10K. I wasn’t necessarily fast, but I wasn’t fading.
I’m really starting to like hitting mile 20, because it gets really easy to count down the miles at that point. I started to make a little bit of a move with about 3 to go, picked it up with two to go and finished fairly strong over the last mile, picking off a couple of people.
I finished in 3:21:45, good for 33rd overall, 2nd in my age group. I’m pretty competitive and pretty hard on myself, so more often than not, I won’t be pleased with my performance. That was the case today. 3:21 isn’t a terrible time, but I expect more out of myself than that. And the way I see it, you guys are jumping on the bandwagon because I’m racing 60 marathons this year, not because I’m running the distance 60 times in training. I feel like I’m bringing home times to everybody following along and I don’t want to bring home bad times. I have some things I need to work on with my marathon pacing, because I’m failing miserably.
The weather today was a little challenging today. As I mentioned, temps were a little bit warmer, but it was still cold. And there was a wind in my face about 1/3 of the time that was ridiculously cold. Overall, though, I’d say the weather was a tiny bit better today.
One great thing about the race is that it’s a major fundraiser for an organization called L’Arche Mobile, which basically provides group living homes for adults with mental disabilities. Someday, Jack could be living with an organization like that, so it hits close to home. I wanted to do some things for them as part of this, but it didn’t pan out and I’m not solid enough with my fundraising yet. I’m hoping to do some things by the end of the year, but we’ll see.
I knew that residents would be presenting us with hand-made medals, and I got mine from a sweet woman named Sara (after she gave me a kiss on each cheek and a hug). I insisted on getting one that she made herself, and she obliged. I took a picture with her a little later.
Me and Sara after the race!
Also, I finished in second place in my age group, and my prize was a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 canvas that was painted by one of the residents. I’ve won age-group awards in about 10 marathons that I can think of off the top of my head, and this one is totally my favorite. It’s a sentimental treasure I’ll hang on to.
All-in-all, I liked the race a lot. I just wasn’t pleased with my performance individually. But due to the uniqueness of what I’m doing, I’ll be able to go give it another crack next weekend in Phoenix.